Issue #15

22 September 2020

Inspiring stories, real news and the hard questions

The Hokitika Wild Foods Festival is one of the great Coast events that attracts people from far and wide.

We highlight the event this week as well as give you a reminder about all the other events taking place on the Coast over the next few months.

The family business, Birchfield Mining, gets the Coaster’s Weekly profile, we tip our hat to Westco Lumber and sing the praises of one cool little artists’ town, Hokitika.

The Coaster’s pass returns with an offer from Kiwi Holiday Park & Motels and we introduce you to two Coast Characters, highlight our top posts and chat to Rev Viv Harper from All Saints War Memorial Church. All this plus our updates from Aratuna Freighter and Williams Hotels Group.

So, have a listen to my take on all the good stuff that’s happening in this issue of Coaster’s Weekly here:

Coaster’s Weekly would like a bit of help doing our interviews. If you have some time on your hands, and feel you would like to be involved with Coasters Weekly, drop me an email at and we can talk.

The Coaster’s Club is of course the vehicle by which we can all stay connected so I would encourage you to join up. I know we can’t always agree on all things, but we can agree that we all want the best for the Coast and the people whose lives and history are intrinsically tied to this wonderful place.

Here’s how you can be part of the Coaster’s Club:

  • Follow us on Facebook: The Coaster’s Club
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  • Receive our newsletter, The Coaster’s Weekly like 33,500 others do and keep connected! Go to and enter your email address in the panel on the home page. It’s as easy as that.

Thanks again for your on-going support. If you have a story you think should be told in Coaster’s Weekly, or you know of a couple of characters we really ought to talk to, please let us know.

Bruce Smith

Inspiring stories, real news and the hard questions

Coast Events

Time to get your wild on!

Hokitika Wild Foods Festival

The Hokitika Wild Foods Festival takes place in Hokitika on 13 March 2021.

The popularity of this amazing Coast event is such that if you are planning on coming from out of town, now is the time to book your accommodation. Leave it until closer to the actual event and you could find all accommodation is full.

We have a video story for you here, capturing all the magic and daring of this absolutely stunning and crazy event. Sit back and go wild!

Check out this tasty summary of last year’s event:

Fresh from this year’s event – Wild Foods festival 2020

Wild Foods Festival’s Boris the Boar, goes on tour to promote the Festival out of town:


Take a trip back to 2018’s event:

In this year’s VIP Tent, learning about the generosity of all sorts of people:

And it was quite something in 2016

As far back as 2013 the Festival was drawing people from the world over!

What’s happening on the Coast

Greymouth Motorcycle Street Race
Sunday October 25, 2020
Follow the link for all information and registrations.

AgFest 2020
Friday 13 and Saturday 14 November, 2020
Follow the link for all information and registrations.

Ride the Wilderness
Saturday 14 November 2020
Follow the link for all information and registrations.

Horse racing
Westport Trots
Saturday, 26 and Monday, 28 December, 2020
Reefton Trots
Wednesday, 30 December, 2020.
Kumara Races
Saturday, 9 January, 2021.
Follow the link for all information.

Buller Marathon, Half Marathon and Walk
Saturday 13 February 2021.
Follow the link for all information and registrations.

Hokitika Wild Foods Festival
Saturday, 13 March, 2021.
Follow the link for all information and tickets.

South Island Ute Muster
10 & 11 July, 2021
For information on the 2021 South Island Ute Muster email

For inclusion on these pages please email details of your event and website link to:

What’s happening on the Coast

Mining: the life blood of the West Coast’s economy

Birchfield mining – the art of land restoration

When Evan and Jane Birchfield say they will do something, that’s all you need Coasters.

You can be sure that if they say they will clean up after every mining operation, then that’s exactly what they will do.

Their work negates the argument leveled against the mining industry, that it destroys the land that is mined and leaves the environment worse for wear.

But that is not the case, as we found out when we visited the site of a former Birchfield mining operation, at the back of Ross. Mining on the West Coast is crucial to our economy; and equally important is the beauty of our land and environment. The care and attention Birchfield mining gives to ensuring the aftermath of a mining operation leaves the land in pristine condition, is second to none. And they comply strictly with all the permissions and resources consents they have to work to. It is a stringent process the company has to follow.

Have a look at the Ross restoration project in these two videos:


Birchfield Mining Ross Ltd.

We take a tour of the depot at Ross and learn of the on-going, massive investment the Birchfield family has made in Ross:


Birchfield Ross Mining leads the country in Jig technology – capturing fine gold. We take you through the process in these two clips:


Brilliant restoration of land at Clear Creek that was mined in the early 1900s. It was left in a bit of a state before Birchfield Ross Mining sorted it in recent times.

Coast Business

Westco Lumber punches well above its weight with big win in NZ Diversity Awards

West Coast sawmill business, Westco Lumber Ltd in Ruatapu, wanted to reinvigorate a culture of learning amongst its workers, and continue to build the capability of the Westco family.

They recognised that an engaged and included workforce had been the key to its success over the years.

So this year they entered the NZ Diversity awards just to see how they measured up. Diversity NZ aims to help organisations do workplace inclusion well and do well because of it.

It turns out Westco Lumber measured up very well! They won their category and we think they were the only South Island winner. There were 85 entries over 10 categories, and Westco’s category had 32 of the entries, so their result was truly outstanding.

The Awards Ceremony was last Wednesday night and the live stream can be seen at: (Westco’s part of the presentation is 1 hour 39 minutes in).

Diversity Works website also has a case study/video about Westco.

Other winners included MBIE, IRD, State Services Commission and Ministry for Women, NZ Police, Jasmax. Like we said, Westco Lumber punched well above their weight and delivered the win!

Have a look here:

Westco Lumber punches well above its weight with big win in NZ Diversity Awards

Williams Hotels Group Update

The Williams Family – Coast pioneers

There are people and families whose vision, determination and perseverance helped establish the West Coast and its indomitable character.

And in so doing, they provided a strong foundation on which the Coast has continued to be built by others who have been drawn to this wonderful place.

This week we chat with Mark Williams from the Williams Hotel Group about the history of this pioneering Coast family.

Coasters Pass

Hokitika Kiwi Park & Motels

A Special For Families

Coaster’s Weekly takes you on a tour of the amazing Kiwi Holiday Park in Hokitika with our tour guide, Amber:

Hokitika's Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels

SHARE AND COMMENT on this post and be in the draw Sunday night for a "Coasters the Endangered species" T-Shirt.To find out just what a teenager thinks of their holiday accommodation best you ask them.Meet Amber and she is staying at Hokitika's newest Holiday Park & Motels. They offered a variety of self-catering and serviced accommodation options set on spacious grounds with modern, large facilities and seems like its a 10/10 for Amber.160 Davie Street, Hokitika •03-755 5141 Susan will give you a Coasters coming home welcome.Hokitika's Kiwi Holiday Park and MotelsKylieandJason SmartAmber SmartCaitlyn RoseGlacier Country Tourism NZTourism West Coast New ZealandKaikoura NZ TourismNew Zealand Tourism Guide@AFREE STUFF Auckland Wide

Posted by The Coasters Club on Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Now that you have seen the splendid facilities, come and enjoy our amazing playground and all that Hokitika and the surrounding area has to offer.

Make a booking for one of our two-bedroom motel units (sleeps up to five) and we will give you a 15% discount on the total booking and a free Kiwi Card. Find out about Kiwi Card here:

This offer is only available for bookings up until 31 October 2020 and you must book either via our webpage (look for Families Special in Two Bedroom Unit section), email or by contacting us on 0800 115 322. Don’t forget to say you read about our offer in Coasters Weekly!


We also have special rates with our Partners and friends at the West Coast Treetop Walk and Café, The National Kiwi Centre and Hokitika Scenic Tours, which are all wonderful family activities. Enquire about these when booking.

Don’t forget to pack the scooters or skate boards for the children or those young at heart to use on our skate board ramp, and the bikes for riding the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

Web address:
Phone: 0800 115 322

Hokitika Kiwi Park & Motels

Coaster’s Club Top Video Posts

This week’s top posts from the Coaster’s Club

Have a look and listen as we give you two of our most popular Coaster’s Club videos from this past week.

Kylie gives a big shout out to the farmers:

Fresh water policy

Its does not matter who you talk to the Fresh water policy bought in on the 3rd of September will kill the golden goose and just when we need real income to repay the debt the country is incurring.Kylie has some veiws

Posted by The Coasters Club on Saturday, September 12, 2020


And this is the video we showed you in the Birchfield Mining restoration story at the beginning of this issue:

Coaster’s Viewpoint

The life of a dairy farmer

I can’t sleep. I know farmers are supposed to be resilient and just get on with things, but how we’re going to get our balage and silage harvested? There are not enough skilled operators here and we won’t have enough food for our cows for the autumn and winter.

The grass doesn’t grow well in the autumn and winter.
We can always feed them crop I guess, except we can’t.
Not without breaking the law. If we graze our cows on crop over the winter, the paddock can’t have more than a 10 degree slope, and we can’t leave footprints deeper than 5cm and we must have it resown before the 1st of November.

If we can’t meet these conditions, we have to apply for a resource consent which will tell us how to farm.
Our cows weigh nearly half a ton each. They’re going to leave foot prints, and we’d be breaking the law!
Winter grazing is practically classed by our government as environmental terrorism.

I’m just a farmer, trying to grow good food for people who think I’m a greedy maniac, trying to destroy the world.
During lockdown, farmers were considered an essential service provider, yet rarely got mentioned.

Minister Parker and Minister O’Connor said when they came out with this law that they consulted with farmers and we were “happy” with these new rules.
They lied; on both counts.

I know I usually try to see the bright side of things.
I’m still farming’s biggest cheerleader but we’re going to have to pull something out of the bag team, or we are gonners. I’m tired, is this just too hard to take ?

A farmer’s wife

Aratuna Freighter’s Update

Aratuna Freighters – you are invited to join the team

Would you like a change in location? Why not join the movement to the Coast?

Aratuna Freighters may just have the job to help you make the move with confidence.

The freighting company is currently looking for Class Five drivers and mechanics and you just might fit the bill. Have a listen here as Bruce Smith gives us a little more information:

From the West Coast to the South Island and beyond

Aratuna Freighters was started from humble beginnings by the Havill family in 1985 with only one truck & trailer.

It has developed along some interesting paths and today runs a diverse mix of general and rural freight, fuel and Fastway couriers.

Today Monique and Andrew Havill manage this multi-million dollar, Greymouth-based business.

In 1989, the company received distribution rights for BP and a tanker truck and trailer unit was put on the road. Double shifting, the truck covered the work previously done by tankers out of Nelson. The petroleum distribution work has now grown to include three truck and trailers units and eight tanker drivers based in Greymouth. The fuel is marketed, delivered and sold by Aratuna Fuels.

In 1992, the Refrigeration side of the operation started with the acquisition of Polar Express (one truck and trailer) and Trans Alpine Refrigeration Ltd (one line haul unit). This side of the business was expanded further in 2001 with the purchase of Williams Transport.

Since July 2003, Aratuna Freighters has opened a second ‘rural’ yard based in Hokitika. Their team of skilled drivers run three stock units, six bulk units and a curtain side bulk truck. The Hokitika office is run by Rural Manager Bill Millar alongside rural assistant and sales rep, Ngawai Tahi.

Another major milestone in the growth of the company was the securing of the Mainfreight, Dailyfreight and Owens Franchise for the entire West Coast area. This service started with one truck and now has four units painted in Mainfreight colours, crossing the mountains every day to Christchurch and South Westland. Their yard manager, Jamie McGeady runs the day-to-day logistics team.

For a quote on freight, fuel or other services provided by Aratuna Freighters, you can call the company’s toll free number 0800 756 666. If you have a rural enquiry, please call the Hokitika team on 03 756 8012.

Coast Characters

Samarra Wright – a Coaster

Bruce Smith gets to talk with a brave and motivated South Westland-raised mum.

Samarra Wright has just been diagnosed with the incurable motor neuron disease. She talks about her life, her horses and this disease which has ravaged an entire family for over 50 years.

Her strength will be a motivation for all who watch this video that was taken in October 2018.

Coast Characters

Bob Calvert – a Coaster

Join me as we catch up with Hector lad, Bob Calvert.

of words, pictures and the arts

Hokitika – artist haven

A cool little town full of amazing artists.

From beach sculpture, to sculptors in all mediums, Hokitika is home to the broadest range of artists and craftspeople.

Here you will find photographers, jewellers, fabric artists, glass blowers, writers, jade and bone carvers, painters and craftspeople of all elks. You can pick up an arts guide from the Information Centre to find addresses of galleries and studios to visit. The video clip here will give you a little taste of this vibrant artists’ town:

Hokitika – artist haven

of words, pictures and the arts

Delivering the Thursday Poem with Mark Raffills

Your father and your namesake
for Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle was an alt country/rock singer, the son of Steve Earle and named after Earle’s friend, the late Townes van Zandt. Like his father and his namesake, Justin was blessed with the music and released some wonderful albums, among them the break-through Harlem River Blues. But like his father and his namesake, he was also hounded by the addiction of alcohol and drugs and a troubled state of mind. Justin Townes Earl died of a drug overdose last month, August 2020. Another singer lost to the song. Video by Dr Jeff Obadiah Simmonds.

The Thursday Poem17 September 2020Your father and your name sakefor Justin Townes EarleJustin Townes Earl was an alt country/rock singer, the son of Steve Earle and named after Earle’s friend, the late Townes van Zandt. Like his father and his namesake, Justin was blessed with the music and released some wonderful albums, among them the break-through Harlem River Blues. But like his father and his namesake, he was also hounded by the addiction of alcohol and drugs and a troubled state of mind. Justin Townes Earl died of a drug overdose last month, August 2020. Another singer lost to the song. Video by Dr Jeff Obadiah Simmonds. Words below.Your father and your name sakefor Justin Townes EarleSeems you couldn’t shake them, the namesthat birthed your crooked soul and hammeredsign posts on the twisted road that called andcalled and wouldn’t let you go until you stumbledand fell out of sight, around the bend on thathighway that runs without end.And I found you by those very same names,singing sad songs on my turntable, while themoon battled the stars to throw light through thecarpet of cloud that hung low over your heart, thatstung your eyes with the tears of a thousand glassesof bourbon and powder, white as snow.You were looking for a spark from the flint of destiny,you were asking for forgiveness in the Harlem riverblues, you were broken long before your drug overdosemade the morning news and all those drunken,bastard boy-friends your mother bedded down, couldnever take his place when your father left the town.How is it that we know these things that carveour destiny and steel our fate in the same bentchord and languid harmony that runs againstthe river’s rage and how is it that we are drowningin the driving rain, hammered by the hurricane untilour breath is just a whisper, fading from an angel’s lips.Mark Raffills

Posted by Mark Raffills on Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Delivering the Thursday Poem with Mark Raffills

Chat around the fire

History Alive

Rev Vivian Harper

This week we chat with the Rev Vivian Harper of All Saints War Memorial Church. She walks us through the beautiful church and recounts some intriguing items of history that are kept alive there.

Bruce Smith

History Alive